One of the most common layover cities for Australians travelling to and from Europe, Abu Dhabi has long been overlooked as a destination. However, recently this oasis in the desert has been tempting visitors to stay in the city for a couple of days on their stopovers with world-class attractions, a welcoming culture and plenty of opportunities to relax and recharge.
Here are the 6 best reasons to extend your stopover in Abu Dhabi next time you’re flying.
1. The Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque
The Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque is the crowning jewel of Abu Dhabi, a pure celebration of Islamic architecture and one of the wonders of the modern world. Almost one hundred domes float above thousands of gilded pillars, flowing symmetrically around a marble courtyard etched with elegant floral designs. One of the only Mosque’s in the region that is open to visitors, it captures the welcoming and open Islamic spirit and is a must-see attraction in the country. Don’t miss the world’s largest chandelier inside, made from about 11-tonnes of Swarovski crystals, and the world’s largest loomed carpet, spun from New Zealand wool.
2. Adventures in the Desert
Abu Dhabi sits right on the fringe of the Rub’ al Khali desert, the largest continuous stretch of sand in the world. Uninhabited save for a few nomad tribes, this sea of sand has been nicknamed ‘The Empty Quarter’. Book onto a desert safari, and you’ll speed across the dunes in 4x4s, slide down them headfirst on sandboards, and experience Arabic hospitality at a traditional Bedouin desert camp under the night sky. Here you’ll also be able to enjoy camel rides, get a henna tattoo, and meet one of the famous UAE falcons, before feasting on a BBQ buffet and watching traditional Middle Eastern dances.
3. Qasr Al Watan Palace
Visiting royalty, global leaders and heads of state are all welcomed to the country here, inside the Qasr Al Watan Palace (Palace of the Nation), an opulent display of Islamic architecture. Outside is all white onion-shaped domes laced with gold, while the interior an impressive collection of gilded vaulting arches of marble, palatial furnishings and swirling Islamic patterns. Shooting off the main hall is a royal dining room, a room containing presidential gifts from visiting dignitaries, and various informative displays on the country’s culture.
4. The Louvre Abu Dhabi
One of the first high-profile openings that tempted visitors into the city rather than spend just a few hours at the airport, The Louvre Abu Dhabi is nothing short of world class. The inspired collection of artefacts, cultural relics and artworks inside the museum weave together the threads of humanity, celebrating the similarities across different cultures and history. From the early beginnings of civilizations to explorations of the new world, the Renaissance and Industrial era, you’ll be challenged, intrigued and humbled on a visit.
5. Yas Island – Island of Leisure
Accelerating to 240 km/h in an explosive 4.9 seconds is sure to burn off any jet lag you have. The Formula Rossa is the fastest roller coaster in the world, and of course it’s located in Abu Dhabi, inside the Ferrari World theme park. It’s but one of the amazing ways to enjoy yourself on Yas Island, Abu Dhabi’s ‘island of leisure’: there are more rides, slides and wave pools at Yas Waterworld; a real-life Gotham City inside of Warner Bros. Movie World; and adrenaline-pumping races at Yas Marina Circuit, home of the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.
6. Recharge at Emirates Palace
You’ll understand why this hotel is rated with 7 stars as soon as you walk through the door: gold crusted furnishings, giant domes, rooms with private butlers and the world’s first ever gold bar ATM machine all await those who stay here. Hearing all that, you can only imagine what their onsite spa is like – no doubt the best way to recharge before your next flight.
Let your local Travel Associates adviser add an unforgettable stopover in Abu Dhabi to your next European holiday.